08/02/2008 11:00PM

Motion tries to beat his former star


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Adriano and Deal Making, onetime stablemates at Fair Hill with trainer Graham Motion, will meet as rivals when they top a field of seven 3-year-olds entered for Monday's $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

Adriano became the star of the Motion stable earlier this year with his impressive victory in the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes over Polytrack at Turfway Park. But shortly after finishing far back in the Kentucky Derby, Adriano was transferred to trainer Bill Mott.

Deal Making is a late-developing colt who did not launch his career until April 24, when he rallied to a maiden victory at Atlantic City. A homebred son of Empire Maker owned by George Strawbridge Jr.'s Augustin Stable, Deal Making has remained undefeated after winning an allowance race at Philadelphia Park and an overnight stakes at Delaware Park.

"I've got to be honest, he's been a little bit of a surprise," Motion said. "He was a bit of a backward 2-year-old, and I didn't expect to win first time out. Since then, he's put everything together; he hasn't done anything wrong. He's just a vastly improved horse."

Motion said it will be strange having to compete against Adriano on Monday.

"It's certainly going to be an odd feeling being in the paddock with a horse we took to the Derby only a few months earlier," Motion said. "Obviously, he's going to be the horse to beat. For my horse, it's a huge step up going from an overnight stakes at Delaware to a graded stakes at Saratoga, while Adriano is taking a step back and facing what for him is probably the easiest competition he's met in a while."

Adriano will be making his second start for Mott in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf. A son of A.P. Indy, Adriano finished a tiring fifth over a soft course in the Grade 3 Colonial Turf Cup on June 21.

"He seemed to be going okay, then at the three-eighths pole he lost his hind end, he just slipped," Mott said.

Edgar Prado, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame hours before the race, will be back aboard Adriano on Monday.

Willsboro Point, Wesley, Picou, and Thou Swell all won their last starts.

Willsboro Point captured an overnight stakes on the turf in his Belmont finale, while Wesley earned high marks beating first-level allowance horses over the same course in an impressive grass debut.

- additional reporting by David Grening